With replacement officials, this scrum involving the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons is increasingly what football looks like. (Pouya Dianat / AP)

Now, LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles tells a story that would seem to be even more damaging about the officials the NFL is using while its regular refs are locked out in a labor dispute.

“They’re like fans, kind of though,” McCoy told Anthony Gargano and Ike Reese on the 94WIP Player Lounge on Monday. “I’ll be honest, they’re like fans. One of the refs was talking about his fantasy team, like ‘McCoy, come on, I need you for my fantasy,’ ahhh, what?!”

(Pouya Dianat / AP)

“During the game, they made like a bad call or something, the ref, and I see Ray Lewis like pump his chest up, trying to scare him,” McCoy said. “Don’t you know [the ref] started stuttering? I’m like ‘what’s this?!’”

It wasn’t any better Tuesday morning when, again, the topic wasn’t Peyton Manning’s struggle or the Atlanta Falcons’ performance on “Monday Night Football” that was the big topic of conversation. And not in a good way.

“In an ugly first quarter that lasted a full hour,” Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith writes, “the officials showed themselves to be completely incapable of keeping a game moving and keeping up with the fast-paced, stressful job that is officiating in the NFL.”

From ESPN’s Ashley Fox:

“...there were three calls overturned on replay in the first half. There were 18 combined penalties and one six-minute skirmish that was a direct hit to the shield the NFL wants so badly to protect. There was a phantom pass interference call on Broncos cornerback Tony Carter. There was a defensive holding call against the Falcons on which the Broncos were awarded 11 yards, rather than 5.

“After a Knowshon Moreno fumble late in the first quarter — Denver's fourth turnover of the quarter — a skirmish ensued. Seemingly half the Broncos' players were on the field, and Atlanta defensive end Ray Edwards bumped referee Ken Roan. There was pushing and shoving. Pandemonium for six minutes. Edwards was the only player or coach flagged. He was called for unnecessary roughness, but he should have been tossed from the game for physically contacting an official.”

The replacements are, undoubtedly, in a tough spot. They’re trying their best, as the Star-Ledger’s Steve Politi writes, but the situation is deteriorating in spite of the NFL’s Chip Diller-like declaration that all is well. So far, players and coaches have offered measured criticism, as the league has mandated. But it’s clear that this is a mess that isn’t going away any time soon — not while NFL owners are making piles of cash.

“There's a lot of people in the league that would rather break the [referees] union,” Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young said on ESPN after the Monday night game. “ ... They feel like [officiating] is a commodity. But more importantly, everything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand. There's nothing [it] can do to hurt the demand for the game. So, the bottom line is they don't care.

“Player safety? Doesn't matter in this case. Bringing in Division III officials? Doesn't matter. Because in the end, you're still going to watch the game."

H/T Deadspin

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